• The Black Sea

    by Richard Setlowe

    Ticknor and Fields, New York, 1991

    ISBN 0-395-56927-3     Buy This Book

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    Book Notes

    By Ed Kelly
    News Book Reviewer

    RICHARD SETLOWE'S exciting ("The Black Sea") may be the year's best action/adventure novel. Besides unusual plot and locale, it also has the quality that makes stories memorable: richness of style.

    Setlowe builds his suspense thriller around the hijacking by Malaysian Muslim fundamentalists of a Russian luxury cruise liner, the Black Sea, near the Strait of Singapore. The pirates conceal the ship in an uncharted river of an island off Sumatra. As ransom, they demand weapons for a holy war they plan to wage in the area. To convince Singaporean authorities of their seriousness, they daily send to the city-state the severed head of a passenger or crewman.

    As a plucky woman Asian studies teacher, one of the captive Americans aboard the vessel, tries to outwit the pirates, the tough commander of a U.S. Navy guided missile frigate searches for the hostages. And back in Singapore the port's security chief struggles to keep the situation from exploding and engulfing the entire region.

    The Black Sea is carefully structured and marvelously textured. Its cast brims with powerfully realized characters, the exotic milieu is wonderfully evoked, and the sweep of the action stunning.

    Add to this a sophisticated narrative style, with frequent bursts of elegance. The result: an uncommonly fine piece of storytelling.


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